Cincinnati can be proud, but can also do better
Twenty-one times in the last 23 years, the Metropolitan Club has recognized a community leader for his or her accomplishments in creating a more vibrant Greater Cincinnati. Our latest honoree is perhaps our most humble, but he took the opportunity to challenge our community. He said we can be proud of what’s happened over the last 36 years, but we can do better.
Receiving the Metropolitan Club’s award Oct. 23 was George H. Vincent, the chairman and managing partner of Dinsmore, Cincinnati’s largest law firm with more than 650 attorneys in 24 cities. By allowing us to recognize him, the Metropolitan Club raised $160,000 – most of which will be distributed to two charities in Northern Kentucky. In 2019, a third Cincinnati nonprofit will join the duo to ensure the future beneficiaries of the award represent organizations working on both sides of the Ohio River.
Prior to 1982, no one here knew George and Kim Vincent, teenage sweethearts from Detroit who moved here after George graduated from the University of Michigan law school. Now, all you have to do is say, “George,” and everyone knows you’re talking about George Vincent.
In those 36 years since the Vincents arrived, Cincinnati and this region have been positively transformed.
Procter & Gamble has achieved global status. Fifth Third Bancorp has become the 11th-largest bank in the nation. The Kroger Co. is the last traditional grocer standing and thriving. The University of Cincinnati has moved from a largely commuter school to a nationally recognized research university. Southwest Ohio has become a city-state that is the largest economy in the state. Northern Kentucky has become the envy of all of Kentucky, just as the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport has been reborn. Over-the-Rhine is one of the hottest neighborhoods in the country, the Cincinnati Museum Center has been renovated and renewed, the Cincinnati Zoo has become a national treasure and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has become the secondbest in the country.
George boiled the formula of our success here into two reasons.
First, he said, was the willingness of people to get involved and to believe that they can make a difference. “Talking to people from around the country, this doesn’t happen everywhere,” George said. Second, George said, we tend not to demand credit. “An amazing amount of activity and philanthropy goes on behind the scenes here,” he said. “When people don’t demand credit and recognition, but instead focus on outcomes and the common good, this too transforms communities.”
But George didn’t let a high-powered crowd of 250 get away without words of what work needs to continue:
❚ To foster our entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem.
❚ To improve our transportation system, beginning with SORTA, which needs both more funding and a new funding system.
❚ To improve our support, both through public financing and philanthropy, of our two-year colleges and vocational education institutions.
❚ To achieve a National Cancer Institute designation, with the involvement of our community hospitals following the lead of 68 cities that already have such a designation.
George didn’t dwell on the need for better cooperation between the city and Hamilton County that would result from a merged government. Leaders of the Metropolitan Club, a private club overlooking the Greater Cincinnati skyline with more than 800 members, have been advocating for merged governments for years. But in that absence, an organization like the Metropolitan Club can fill in – uniting diverse stakeholders for the benefit of all in the community.
Trish Smitson is chair and Mike Sipple is chair-elect of the Metropolitan Club board of directors.